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Spotlight on Spice: How to Grow Lemongrass

How to grow Lemongrass by SeasonWithSpice.com
How to grow lemongrass in a jar (by SeasonWithSpice.com)

Growing and harvesting your own spices & herbs might be too unrealistic, like planting a nutmeg tree or a clove tree far from the equator; too labor-intensive, like hand-pollinating a vanilla orchid or processing green pepper into black peppercorns; too big to fit in your house or even your yard, like a 50-foot tamarind tree. 

Or maybe too easy, like growing your own lemongrass plant.

lemon grass plant at penang botanic gardens ready to be harvested

Lemongrass is a herb – a delicious, aromatic, healing herb – but don’t let that flowery characterization imply that the plant itself is anything more than a grass.  A weed.  A clump of long blades that will spread, and keep growing back each year. 

Lemongrass is a spice you can grow, so let’s get started: 
  1. In the late spring or early summer, buy a few lemongrass stalks at your local Asian grocery store.  Make sure the stalks look fresh, green, and firm.
  2. At home, prepare the lemongrass stalks as if you were going to cook with them – peel off the loose, outer layers of each stalk, then chop off the thin, upper green blade.
  3. Place the stalks into a jar filled with water, and keep near a sunny window in your house.
  4. Within a week, you should start to see stringy, white roots form, and a few days after that, new green stalks shooting up.  However, the timing will depend on the climate you are living in.
  5. Transfer the plants to a well ventilated pot with good drainage, and cover with rich organic soil about an inch above the roots.  You can also plant lemongrass outside in warmer climates, but best to keep an eye on it since the perennial will spread in a garden or yard.
  6. Place the pot outside in a sunny spot, or inside near a sunny window.  Water every few days to keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater.
  7. After a couple of months, you should have a large cluster of green grassy blades shooting up. Once the blades are at least a meter long, you can start harvesting them when needed for your lemongrass recipes.  Harvest all the stalks by autumn (you can keep the leftover lemongrass stalks in your freezer). 

11 comments:

Sheila Braegelmann said...

Hi, After seeing all these great Lemon Grass recipes (especially using them as skewers) I am tempeted to try growing it, do you think it is a perenial even in a Minnesota type climate? I guess starting over and planting it each spring wouldn't be a big deal either. My mouth waters everytime I look at your site. Take Care, Sheila

Season with Spice said...

Hi Sheila, happy to hear you are going to give lemongrass a try. I was also wondering if it would be a perennial in Minnesota's climate, so I will have to check back with you next year to find out if it survived. If it was this last mild winter, it probably would have.

If you plant lemongrass in a pot, and you have room in your house, just bring it in for the winter (and water it sparingly). After you harvest the stalks in the fall, it won't take up so much space inside.

But you're right, it doesn't really matter, since it is so easy to just replant it every spring.

Can't wait to try out your lemongrass skewers!

Mark

Victoria at Flavors of the Sun said...

I live in Mexico where lemongrass leaves are easy to find as they are used for a tea/infusion, but it is impossible to find the roots. You have inspired me to grow my own! Thanks.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

I was talking to friend yesterday that I will need a little garden for my own herbs so I can pick and use whenever I need. I never thought of planting lemongrass but I'd love to consider it!

Nami said...

I was talking to friend yesterday that I will need a little garden for my own herbs so I can pick and use whenever I need. I never thought of planting lemongrass but I'd love to consider it!

Sarah said...

This is just what I have been looking for- how-to regarding growing lemongrass at home and storage. I will have to go look for some.

Sophie Von Rheden said...

Finally I found a site with limongrass! I like very much your site and I will study it quietly to lear about all the spices!
Thanx and I put you to my blogroll in Spain!
http://watchandeatwithme.blogspot.com

Season with Spice said...

Thanks for adding us to your blogroll, Sophie!

Season with Spice said...

That's odd that only the leaves are being used. Missing out on the best part of lemongrass. Good luck growing the herb - should be easy in the warm climate of Mexico.

colleenwhalen said...

Brilliant!

I love lemongrass and was wondering how the heck to get rootstock or seeds for my garden. This is a cool idea. BTW - brew up some lemongrass tea and use it to make home-brewed Kombucha. Lovely served chilled in the hot summer weather - especially if you spruce up the tall cool glass of lemongrass flavored Kombucha with a sprig of fresh mint.

I found out entirely by accident if you chop off the end part of the stem of fresh basil, put a bunch of it in water in a container - wait about a week - it will sprout ROOTS. I put those rooted basil's in potting soil and the plant took off. It has now been transplanted to my garden and is doing nicely into a full blown basil plant, well on it's way to becoming a big bushy basil plant.

BTW, don't ever store fresh basil in the fridge. It turns black and rots overnight. When you get home, cut off the bottom end of the basil, put it in a cup with lots of water. Leave it at room temperature with some sunlight - not full blast sun - but enough sun for it to keep photosynthesis. The basil will stay fresh for 7-10 days. Maybe longer if the weather is cooler. Some of it will grow roots and some will not root.

SeasonWithSpice said...

Lemongrass leaves make a great tea...not just for cooking! It's very refreshing hot or cold. Make it a bit strong when you have aches.

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